“Each movement has its own life, the life of movement itself.” Shen Wei
Walking, kneeling, drawing fragments of color from shallow bowls, casting them with ceremonial slowness on the stage, the dancers of the Shen Wei Dance Arts transformed the stage of the Sherover Theatre into a place of devotion and contemplation. Their actions felt timeless – as if they were practitioners of an ancient religion, intent on their task, and audience walking into the hall was almost incidental to their process. The focus of the dancers throughout the work was inward, meditative, their eyes looking out into the vast distance of time, the ever-changing rhythms of nature and humanity.
Inspired by Shen Wei’s travels through Tibet, Angor Wat, and China, RE Parts I, II, and III was the opening performance of the 2010 Israel Festival. More than a dance, RE imparts a vision and experience that leaves a lasting imprint on the mind and imagination. The relationship between the choreography, dance, set design, music and lighting design created an eco-system in which all parts are harmoniously integrated. The performance is a moment in time, a connection to images, movement and processes begun long ago, that will continue to evolve long after the performance is over.
A woman walks to the center of the stage, facing the audience, the slow asymmetric curve of her body almost hypnotic. The movement grows in soft undulations as if pulled in different directions by outer forces, then stops, and she walks off. An image of blue skies with floating clouds dominates the vast screen at the back of the stage. Dancing before the changing sky, the dancers seem to fly, scattering the carefully laid out design with an ease and lightness equal to the solemnity of the preparation. One movement flows into another as if blown about by the wind, spirits floating on the sound of Tibetan chants.
Deep into the tangle of limbs and roots, the intricate green jungle. A line of dancers creates changing inter-connected patterns, bodies joining at unusual intersections, separating and coming together once more. A jungle fills the space, projected on the dancer’s bodies, all movement merges with the shape and shadows of the foliage. The colors disappear as a black and white aerial image fills the screen, the brightly lit stage accenting the sharp angled movement as city sounds and voices surround the dancers.
Then closer, deeper, to the source; moving slowly as a tree grows, the body of a woman curves white, subterranean, like a root growing in the dark earth. Surrounded by slow, entangled clusters of dancers moving as one entity, the exquisite tension of her contorted limbs breathes with a potent energy.
A dance of interdependence: leaning against one another, necks intertwined. Supporting, pushing, force against force, they move in pairs lower and lower to the ground until they collapse – and rise again. Chaos within order, nature within civilization, the individual within the community; formations of threes walk the stage in pale green, a wild presence twisting within like the green tendrils of a vine sending out new shoots. A city rises out of a single horizontal white line on the dark screen, the music fast and loud the dancers come together again, feeling their way towards one another. Creating an ornate design with their bodies, a line of movement, slowly coming forward; as the curtain closes, the movement continues.